23 October 2023 | Tax and Budget

A State Child Tax Credit Will Help Every Kansas Kid Blossom

October 23, 2023

The establishment of a state child tax credit (CTC) would lower the rate of childhood poverty in Kansas while increasing economic outcomes for Kansas families.

The CTC gives families more money in their pockets to help them meet their basic needs. A bonus is the boost to local businesses with more money in the Kansas economy.

State CTCs are powerful tools that bolster economic security by providing families with children extra resources. State CTCs’ structures are determined by the state and look different in terms of refundability, credit amount, and who benefits.

  • Refundability: Most states with state CTCs have made their credits refundable.
  • Credit amount: States with CTCs vary, including a fixed credit amount, a range or tiered approach based on income, and as a percentage of the federal CTC.
  • Beneficiaries: While some states include every child, some have eligibility limitations. For example, some states limit the CTC to young children, while others are limited based on income.

The CTC is associated with many positive benefits, including:

  • Improvements in infant and maternal health
  • Decreased poverty
  • Reduced childhood hunger
  • Better test scores
  • Higher rates of high school graduation and post-secondary attendance
  • More earning power as adults

States Can Significantly Reduce Child Poverty

Lawmakers have the power to help Kansas children reach their full potential by reducing childhood poverty, food insecurity, and family debt. Families are feeling the squeeze in their pocketbooks.

Too many Kansas families – especially those of color, with special health needs, or navigating geographic barriers – have a hard time making ends meet and paying for the basics, particularly now with rising inflation.

As groceries, transportation, and housing costs continue to rise, so do the number of Kansas families experiencing economic uncertainty. Unfortunately, the Kansas child poverty rate has increased from 13.4% in 2021 to 13.8% in 2022 (according to most current data from the U.S. Census Bureau), demonstrating more families could be helped through a state child tax credit.

The recent (but now ended) expansion of the federal CTC monthly payments during the pandemic showcased how families spent their extra dollars. The temporary expansion of the federal CTC helped Kansas parents meet the basic needs of their families and alleviated financial stress, freeing up their capacity to focus on raising their children.

Among Kansas households that received a federal CTC, it is clear families used them to pay for basic necessities.

The Time Is Now

The expansion of the federal child tax credit led to the lowest childhood poverty level on record. While the federal expansion was not continued, states across the country have instituted (or expanded) their state CTCs to ensure the anti-poverty gains continue. In 2023 alone, 11 states created or expanded state CTC programs.

Kansas lawmakers should join the growing number of state leaders that have seized the opportunity to enact a proven strategy to reduce childhood poverty by establishing a state CTC.

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